Alexander Sergeyevich Zaldostanov (Russian: Алекса́ндр Серге́евич Залдоста́нов, also known as "The Surgeon", Russian: Хирург), is a Russian motorcycle club leader, political activist, and former physician. He is the leader of the Night Wolves, Russia's largest motorcycle club. He was awarded the Medal "For the Return of Crimea" by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin for his actions in "Helping Crimeans to self-determine".
Zaldostanov was born in Kirovohrad (present day Kropyvnytskyi in Ukraine, then USSR) in 1963. His father is Georgian (original spelling Zaldastanishvili), and his mother, a doctor, is Russian. Zaldostanov describes his mother as a "convinced communist", but he says that the family still prayed to Russian Orthodox icons. The Zaldostanovs spoke Russian at home, despite the father's Georgian background. The family moved to Sevastopol in the Crimea when he was young, and then again to Moscow. He was involved in the communist youth Pioneer movement as a teenager. Zaldostanov studied medicine in Moscow, and practiced as assistant of surgeries, specializing in post-traumatic facial reconstruction. He left medicine and became involved in motorcycle club activities. In the mid-1980s, he was working as a bouncer in a nightclub in West Berlin. He was in demand as Moscow suffered from crime-related violence with the fall of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Zaldostanov was introduced to motorcycle culture in the mid 1980s, while he was in Berlin. He purchased a Czech-made motorcycle, and began participating in the biker scene in Moscow while still working as a surgeon. He formed the Night Wolves, Russia's first major motorcycle club, in 1989. The club maintains close ties to the Russian Orthodox Church, and promotes nationalist ideals. Moving away from themes like drugs and organized crime associated with American motorcycle clubs like the Hells Angels, Zaldostanov began to use the club for political activism in the 2000s.
In the late 2000s, the club began holding rallies in the former Soviet Eastern European countries, promoting Slavic culture. Vladimir Putin participated in one rally, travelling with the group to Sevastopol in 2012. Zaldostanov has offered the Night Wolves to the Russian Government as an informal militia. Zaldostanov and other club members visited Crimea just prior to the Russian annexation in 2014, and publicly supported the change of power on the peninsula. He and the Night Wolves have offered support to pro-Russia militias fighting in the eastern Ukraine.
Zaldostanov is known for strong support of the Russian government, military, and President Vladimir Putin. He is also known for his admiration for former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and homophobic views. Zaldostanov was one of the official torchbearers for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and received the Order of Honour, a Russian state decoration, from Putin in 2013.
In January 2015, Zaldostanov formed the "Anti-Maidan" movement with journalist Nikolai Starikov and several right-wing politicians. The group opposes "Maidan"-style democratic revolutions, specifically the Orange Revolution and 2014 Euromaidan revolts in Ukraine, as well as opposition political groups within Russia. Zaldostanov suggested that "Death to faggots" could be an alternate name for the Russian anti-Maidan movement.
Zaldostanov has been sanctioned by several governments, including the United States and Canada, for the Night Wolves' involvement in the unrest in Ukraine in the mid-2010s. In April 2015, he and the Night Wolves were refused entry to the European Union at the Polish border.